Alberto Korda, ‘La Niña De La Muñeca De Palo, 1959’, 1959, Rebekah Jacob Gallery
Alberto Korda, ‘La Niña De La Muñeca De Palo, 1959’, 1959, Rebekah Jacob Gallery
Alberto Korda, ‘La Niña De La Muñeca De Palo, 1959’, 1959, Rebekah Jacob Gallery

La Niña de la muñeca de palo (The Girl with the Wood Doll”) was extremely important in the history of Cuban photographer Alberto Korda’s career. It served as the transition from his work as a famous fashion and commercial photographer in Cuba in the 1950s to his dedication to the Revolution in 1959. Scouting for a location to shoot images for the Cuban tourist board, he came across the home of this little girl who became frightened of his camera and clutched her “doll,” the piece of wood she holds, telling it not to cry. When Korda printed the image that same day, he realized he could not continue with the commercial work he felt too frivolous given the Revolution. As a frontispiece for a book of his photography, this image is accompanied with Korda’s following words:

“Esta niña que abrazaba un leño al que llamaba “mi nene” me convenció que debía consagrar mi trabajo a una revolución que transformara esas desigualdades.” • Korda - 1997

Translation : 'This girl who is hugging the piece of wood which she called “my baby” convinced me that I should dedicate my work to a revolution which would transform these inequalities.’

This particular print of the little girl holding a doll was printed in 1959 from the original negative. Korda gave this print as a gift to the little girl in 1959 and when she died some twenty years later it remained with her family. The photo remained hanging in their home in Pinar del Rio for over forty years, its condition the result of general weather in Cuba and two hurricanes in the early 2000s. This is one of the earliest vintage prints to exist and shows a more open cropping than usually seen in later prints. One possible reason may be that in 1968 the original negative for this image was confiscated by the Cuban Revolutionary government and never returned to Korda. He subsequently made an internegative from an existing print from which he printed the image thereafter.

The documentary film, Kordavision (2007), includes a segment of Korda revisiting the little girl’s home in Pinar del Rio in 2000 showing this print with the family and the original piece of wood the little girl called her baby.

Signature: Signed, with poem written in Korda's hand on verso

About Alberto Korda

Cuban, 1928-2001, Havana, Cuba

Solo Shows on Artsy

2015
Alberto Korda in America, Sous Les Etoiles Gallery, New York
2015
Korda, Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach, CA, United States
2015
Cuba in Revolution, International Center of Photography, New York, NY, United States
2015
Alberto Korda: Feminine Photography, La Fabrica, Madrid, Spain
2014
Korda and the Revolutionary Image, Jordan Schitzer Museum of Art, Eugene, OR, United States
2013
Korda Moda Exhibit of Cuban Fashion Photography by Alberto Korda, Krause Center for Innovation, Los Altos Hills, CA, United States
2012
Che Guevara: Images of Revolution, Museum de Moderne Rupertinum, Salzburg, Austria
2011
Alberto Korda, COEX, Seoul, South Korea
2001
Alberto Korda, North Dakota Museum of Art, Grand Forks, ND, United States
2001
Cuba Sil, Wingfield Arts, Eye, United Kingdom
2001
Cuba Sil, Dick Institute, Kilmarnock, United Kingdom
2000
Alberto Korda, Roy Boyd Gallery, Chicago, IL, United States
1986
Alberto Korda, Galeria Servando Cabrera, Havana, Cuba
1985
Alberto Korda, Galleria H. Diagragma Canon, Milan, Metropolitan City of Milan, Italy
1962
Alberto Korda, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana, Cuba